PwC’s Flying Start degree programme goes from strength to strength

PwC’s Flying Start degree programme goes from strength to strength
PWC-SOR-IntroThe innovative Flying Start degree programme was featured in last year’s State of the Relationship report and has gone from strength to strength since. 

Expansion has included the Henley Business School at the University of Reading and Nottingham University Business School and applications have increased fourfold to an all-time high of 1,200 for around 160 places.

The programme is a unique collaboration between PwC, the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), and partner universities to prepare students for professional accountancy careers through a sponsored degree. Participating students undertake their degree alongside paid work experience at PwC and professional exams from ICAEW’s ACA qualification.

An important part of Flying Start is that work placements are integrated throughout the course, rather than in a more traditional ‘sandwich year’. Participating students can see the benefits from moving between university and the world of work:

“My confidence as a professional grows every time I come on placement and realise how much my modules and experience during ‘busy season’ have improved my understanding of accounting and auditing from the previous year”, says Emma, a 2012 Reading University student.

Flying Start originated 14 years ago with Newcastle University Business School as the first partner. It continues to be a popular route for training business, accounting and finance students, this year attracting 1,200 applications for the 160 places. “At a time when school leavers are much more actively balancing the benefits of university with those of starting their career, this programme offers the best of both worlds”, says Richard Irwin, Head of Student Recruitment at PwC.

The employment opportunities are clear with 100% of Newcastle University students taking part in the programme going onto graduate roles at PwC. Applicants are aware of the benefits. Anam, a second year student and the University of Nottingham said:

“With increasing competition for jobs after graduation, I was inclined to this course as it provides an all in one opportunity for success. I am going to have valuable experience at one of the big 4, a degree at a prestigious university, and ICAEW accreditation up my sleeve putting me ahead of most graduates.”

There are important benefits for PwC as well as the students themselves, with the Flying Start programme training students to qualification level at 40% lower cost than the company’s graduate programme. Sponsoring a degree programme is a critical component of PwC’s strategy to cost effectively attract the best talent.

With this goal in mind, the programme is set for further expansion in future years.

Now an established brand, PwC have launched further Flying Start programmes with Queens University Belfast and Heriot-Watt University.

The Heriot-Watt programme offers placements for actuarial students, extending the model to other roles to increase the opportunities for students.
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